"Our sound is much more mature now. My singing has improved a lot since the recording of Opium"

Read an interview with the leadsinger Jesper Palmqvist written by Scott Mallonde (revoltzine.com) back in 1998.


You've released five singles from your new CD "Opium," which is really quite a feat. How have the songs gone over in Sweden?

They have done well. The downside is that not only is Sweden a small country of only 9 million people, but our genre is also one of the least publicly appreciated. Therefore it is a struggle selling enough CDs here. But despite these circumstances, they have done well. We have very high hopes of 'Erina' going into the charts after its release September 21st.

Even if the scene in Sweden is small, I can guarantee you it is only a fraction of the size in the United States. If it weren't for A Different Drum, I am sorry to say that I probably would have never heard your music. Has releasing your work in the United States on A Different Drum had a major impact on your popularity amongst the scene overseas?

Most definately. A Different Drum has meant a lot to us. Apart from Todd being someone who really gets things done, having something more abstract than just an import deal makes a huge difference. It might not be that visible at first, since this is a small scene, but like you said, it would be close to nothing without A.D.D. It also helps in rasing some popularity here, since the North American CDs are different, thus becoming a target for buyers here in Europe via import.

On the 2 track single, "År Som Blad," you sing in Swedish. I am a huge fan of multilingual music, so this one pleased me if not only to hear the lyrics sung is Swedish. Have you ever considered doing more tracks in your native language?

This is a problem. If we had more songs in Swedish, and focused on that, we would not get much international attention, which is needed to not stay totally unknown. As much as we also care for multilingual music, it comes down to facts and feelings. Facts are that Swedish consists only of a fourth of the words found in English, so it is not unusual to lack words. Also, Swedish means a very cruel directness. Itīs hard in poems and lyrics, since you have to constantly found ways not to be flippantly direct. So therefore we stick to English, even though we do have a couple of songs in Spanish too.

I am assuming, then, that English is very common in Sweden. As a general rule, how fluently does the entire population of Sweden know English?

Hard to say a specific number, but it is very widely spread. The only ones who donīt speak very well, might be very old people. All people start studying English at the age of 9 or 10, and go on until College doing so. Itīs just a second language, and it helps tourists coming here a lot, I reckon. Itīs hard to find an explanation as to why Swedish people know English well, in fact generally far better than Norwegians and Danes. Most people probably got so influenced by the British and the Americans over the past half century, that they felt the need to speak their language.

When was your last tour?

The last proper tour was back in 94-95. After that we have went on more random concerts around Sweden. It has not been something we planned, to play live less frequently, it just happened. We enjoyed the studio so much, we couldnīt leave.

Do you have a tour planned for the future?

Not at the moment, no. We will probably keep this up, playing when we are wanted, and spend most of the time in the studio.

For live shows, many electronic bands seem to lack on the element of performance. What does Kiethevez do to make a live show special?

Actually, that is probably one of the reasons why we cut down our concerts. We all had great ideas how to improve the show, but it would take a lot of time preparing things, and a good deal of planning. We didnīt feel we had that time, or should I just say our priorities lay elsewhere. Studiowork, videorecording, sideprojects etc. etc. And since we all feel if people pay money to go and see you, you should give them something special, we didnīt think it was fair to present ourselves under those conditions. However, if a major tour is planned in the future, that will become top priority. Such a tour might be a reality, if these latest singles do well.

Do you remember any past shows that have stuck out? An exceptionally powerful performance or a show that turned into a disaster?

One of the best memories must be from a few years back, when we after a well performed and glowing concert got cheered back on stage again for an encore, for the first time. The best memories seem those from the beginning of our career, when everything was so new. Our worst concert is without a doubt from '92, I believe, when we were given a slot during the festivities of graduation in early June. It was held in the concert hall of Goteborg, and 1250 people sat in front of us. We came on stage with two new songs, without a soundcheck and still being quite new to concerts at all. It was just one long embarrasment, as the PA system was crap, and no one barely heard anything.Luckily, it was only two songs. I could hear people talking to each other on the front row! We got over it quickly, though. All publicity is good publicity?

I'm sure there is a story behind your name. I'm just not quite sure of the details. Can you tell us how you chose the name Kiethevez?

Several stories exist. This is the most reliable one:
Back in '90, the name of the band was Yellowstone, an incredibly tacky name. And with a concert coming up, we were thinking of changing it. To that concert we made a song which amongst other things contained a sampled voice saying some actors' names, including Kiefer Sutherland and Emilio Estevez. But the old and already tired Emax couldnīt handle that sample, and but the thing up automatically, losing the part in the middle, ending up with kie-tevez. After listening to it many times, we decided to take it on as a name. Sure, it is a very obscure name, and people rarely remember it, but it is still just a name. We need to keep our priorities straight.

That's quite a unique way of selecting a name. Wasn't it around that time when you first joined the band? Can you explain how you became a part of Kiethevez, or as it was at the time, Yellowstone?

Back then I was playing in another, more rock-oriented band. One day in college they had heard I sang in a band, so they came up to me and asked if I wanted to sing in their band at a concert to be held in a few months. Their old singer was quitting, but I think they wanted to get rid of him, because of his voice or attitude or something. The problem was that he owned the PC and some keyboards, I think. Thatīs probably why it took them so long. But I am not sure about theses things. I have never really gotten to know the whole truth behind it... I wonder why? Still, I joined them, prepared for that concert and went on from there. I should thank them, you know. After that first concert, I met up with the most beautiful woman I have ever seen... Wouldnīt have done it without them, I suppose.

You mentioned earlier that you enjoyed the studio so much, you couldn't leave. Does this mean that we should be expecting another Kiethevez release soon?

Yes. First now the two singles 'Erina' (Europe) and 'One Roman Choir' (U.S.) will be released in September. After that we will work as fast as we can to put out a new CD, we have many many new songs, that we feel are much better than the ones on 'Opium'. Everything might happen. We might release it on our own, since we lately have been disappointed with the promotion work from October/Energy, our record company. It depends on how well they perform this Autumn, with the singles.

What kind of evolutions or changes will be made with the next release?

Our sound is much more mature now. My singing has improved a lot since the recording of 'Opium' thanks to singing lessons, and we seem to have found a good mix between some guitars and all the keyboards in front of us. Still, I do not think we will be considered more easy-listening. Our new material seems more difficult to adjust to, but worth the effort.

Interview by Scott Mallonde 9/3/98 (http://www.revoltzine.com)